Saturday, March 31, 2012

Rest of the First Full Day

Judith is an amazingly bottomless well of knowledge. She is also a gifted teacher, the kind that you want to just follow around ALL the time to see what else she'll say. We were all mesmerized.

Learning about fiber

Hands on learning is the best and we all dived right into the fiber....literally! As you can see it was a nice and relaxed environment. No one worried about what they were wearing, if their hair looked okay or even if anything matched! It was ALL about the fiber and how to deal with it.

Locks from the fleece being combed

Look at those wicked, REALLY sharp teeth! You just lay the locks on there and comb it like the hair that it is. The stiff outer coat has been discarded and this is a layer under that. Some animals have more than two layers. When it's cold the hairs stand up and fluff out and that is what keeps them warm. We do that too but our hair doesn't insulate so well. We call that 'goosebumps'. 8^)

Spinning from the comb
Feeling the 'velvet'

Only the longest and strongest fibers come from the comb. The shorter fibers and  lumpier pieces (noils) stay in the comb.

Judith can spin right from the combs!

And then she made a tiny bit of velvet. Now I know how it was done before machines came along to help out the process. Wow!

Three examples of a diz
Drawing fiber through the diz

These little gadgets are a diz....I don't know the plural of the word. The combed fiber is pulled through the hole to form what is called 'top'.

 If you see any wool fiber called 'top' this is how it was processed.

Judith is a whiz with a diz! Sorry, I just could not pass that up!!

Here's a link to a video showing a diz in use: 

Group learning
We followed Judith over to the tables to see even more things to do! Who knew there is SO much to learn about fiber?!!

Then the drum carder

More about drum carders tomorrow!

One of Judith's suitcases

More of Judith's stuff

This is what Judith's bags look like. She vacuums the air out and stuffs it all in. She said her greatest fear is that TSA will open the suitcase and then the bags will suck in air and they'll never be able to close them again!


PS-The spacing got weird in this post. I'm sure it's something I did wrong but I'm too lazy to start over!

Friday, March 30, 2012

Spinning Camp First Full Day

This camp followed my personal schedule really well. Wake up slowly, talk a bit if you like, wander around outside, have breakfast, ease into the day slowly. YES!!!

Here are some sights around our exclusive cabin that caught my eye the first morning starting with our cabin exterior.....

Post repetition 

 Down to the river....

Guadalupe River behind the cabin

Dam across the river....

Flowing water

The water was fairly swift after the previous night's rain and of course I had to play with the shutter speed to see how the water could look in the photos.....

Fast shutter speed
Slower shutter speed
Even slower shutter speed

I never get tired of trying this out!

More sights around the cabin....

Boats if you like
Turkey vultures

No one took the boats out because we were all too busy playing in the fiber!

These two turkey vultures perched on top of the huge water slide to sun their wings. At least I think that's all they were doing. I got closer and closer until one flew away. These are pretty big birds!

Class begins!

Judith, our intrepid leader
Out comes the fiber

Around 9 or so Judith called us all around and out came a fleece. Let the fun begin!!! The first fleece was Icelandic, a breed of sheep that has long fiber.....and tomorrow more fiber pics! 8^)

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

More on Day 1

The threatened storm finally arrived complete with some pretty large hail. I haven't seen hail like that since I was a kid. Thankfully the hail didn't last long and everyone's car came out okay. I tried to get a photo but it was just too dark out. This was the best I got.....

Mostly rain but it hailed some too

Not to be outdone by mere rain and no teacher everyone got busy on various projects.....

Barefoot works best!

Spinning on a charka

In the pink

 That box-like spinning apparatus in the photo above is a charka (not to be confused with chakra) which was touted by Mahatma Gandhi in India. In fact, there are photos of him spinning cotton on one. I have not tried spinning on one but maybe someday. Here's a YouTube link to a lady spinning on one:

Some ladies chose to knit:

Golden lace

Multicolored lace

Lace is generally no small endeavor. I'm not crazy about lace knitting because it requires total concentration from me with NO talking and NO television. You see the problem for me!

White lace

One lady was working with a really cool drop spindle!

Drop spindle with bling

Around it goes

The bling looked pretty cool!

Last of all the teacher finally made it!

And she brought this really awesome batch of fiber she dyed herself. We had a drawing and everyone got to choose a skein. I got the one at the top left corner of the rug, blue and tan. Yea!! More fiber to spin!!! (No worries about that empty spot. The fiber reappeared. I think someone was getting in some close inspection time and maybe a bit of drooling!)

You can never have too much fiber!

And that's Judith's own woven rug. I'm not even discussing weaving!


Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Spinning Camp Day 1

The first evening we were all busy making our own little 'nest' area. Our mentor, Judith, was held  up in a travel glitch but not a problem. Wheels got set up and fiber galore appeared.

Vendor table

More shopping

Vendor tables were set up too. We used the honor system....take what you want, write it down on a list and pay before you go home, sort of the old fashioned idea of running a tab.

Spinning variations

It didn't take long for us to get down to business! Notice that all four spinners here have a different spinner. There are tons of variations and it was neat to get to see them all in action. The one with the orange fiber is using an electric spinner!

Spun single

Here we have a nice red and green mingled fiber on a bobbin.  Below the flyer is twirling around the bobbin. That's how the fiber gets twisted into a strand of spun fiber.

Flyer in action
Yellow single

The flyer has hooks spaced across on each side. As an area fills with spun fiber the spinner must move the fiber from hook to hook. At right you can see that this spinner is on the 4th hook. There are some flyers designed to move along gradually eliminating the 'grouping' effect.


Paul is the SO (significant other) of Karen, the main organizer. He came along to help out, fetch forgotten items and just to visit. He was only around during the days. It's obvious that he thoroughly enjoys being an eccentric and I got a kick out of visiting with him on a number of topics. And this is one of my favorite photos ever!

 Everything seemed to me to be off to a pretty good start even without the 'teacher' around to get us working! More on our first evening in the next post.....


Monday, March 26, 2012

What a Week!!!

I loaded up my car last Monday (19th) and headed off to Mo Ranch. First off it looked like four people were going but it was just me! My spinning wheel (Kromski Minstrel) got the place of honor and rode shotgun with me. It's not a travel wheel and the front seat is the only place it will fit in my car!

Kromski Minstrel

Thankfully the threatened storm held off and it was clear sailing for the two hour drive to the ranch near Hunt, TX. Most of the drive was on I-10 but then it got interesting. I took the scenic route along the Guadalupe River and passed lots of other ranches. I really wished someone else was driving so I could take pictures but it was a twisty road so I would've just been carsick anyway. Here's what I saw when I finally arrived at my destination.....

First view at Mo Ranch

A nice man greeted me at the registration building and gave me a map so I could get to our cabin. I needed the map. Mo Ranch is a huge place!!

Road to our cabin

 You can check out the ranch here....  It's a truly beautiful spot, a little bit rustic but not too much so! Our event planners did a bang-up fabulous job planning meals and housing. We were all in a building all to ourselves and had lunch in the ranch dining hall. Dinners were catered so no clean-up to do. Awesome!!

Karen setting up

Headed to my room on the 2nd floor

 Karen, the spinner who dreamed up the whole spinning retreat (This is its 2nd year.) was already there getting set up.

We were two to the room and bathrooms with showers were at the end of the hall. Six rooms were on either side of this central area....or maybe it's eight rooms. I never really counted them!

Setting up the spinning wheel 

Here's my roommate, Marilyn, setting up her wheel. We were roommates in our college days so this was a real reunion for us! MMH (our name for Marilyn) arrived shortly after me.

 A few spinners, including our mentor for the week, had travel delays and didn't arrive until late or even the next morning. Thankfully, the threatened storm arrived late that evening and didn't interfere with anyone. There was some pretty large hail but no one in our group suffered any damage. The evening was spent getting to know each other, setting up, finding rooms and eating dinner. So far, so good!! The fiber stuff will start tomorrow.


Monday, March 19, 2012

Fun Game

I just found more photos on my camera that I forgot to download! When Ta Yah and Ellen were here we got out the Mexican Train Dominoes. This is a fun game, not too hard so you can still talk and enjoy the social aspect of things. Plus it doesn't involve much knowledge of the English language that might give us an advantage being native English speakers.....

Playing the game

Thinking about it 

Game over

If you don't have this game it's a nice alternative to the never-ending Monopoly! And now to tell you I am off to a spinning camp for the remainder of the week. I will learn about spinning YARN.....not just the tall tales variety!! 8^)


Sunday, March 18, 2012

Happily (?) Shopping Together

The prospect of buying an 18 year old house has brought forth lots of decision making! Bob and I headed off to a wood flooring showroom just to check out possibilities. Oh my! There are so many choices that our heads started spinning, figuratively anyway. Do you ever think that we just have way too many choices available to us here in consumer-driven America??! Sheesh!

Flooring samples

First off the samples on the wall are about 18" tall. Duh! How can you tell how that would look in an entire room? This takes a ton of imagination!

Bob shopping

Next, you do not want to go out without a camera phone or pocket camera. This saves a ton of time on note taking and you can more easily compare choices in the comfort of home, i.e. in your jammies!

Gorgeous wood

You also have to soon realize it is not just about what you love. It's mostly about what will work! I think this wood is stunning but a whole room of it? Not for us.....we don't want the wood to be the whole center of interest but more the background of the room. This might be great in an entryway or some small area or maybe even as a border around a less patterned wood.

It quickly......

....became apparent....

...that you could double the price of your house!!

As you can see the cost per square foot can add up pretty fast! And this does not include things like a moisture and sound deadening barrier, baseboards and or shoe mold and the cost of installation. It's like taking a fancy car or maybe a chunk of college education and spreading it around to walk on.

Take note of that square of product code on the left of the label in the last photo. If you have a smart phone you NEED the app to scan these things. It is awesome. You can look up stuff right there on your phone or even better just email it to yourself and it will be there waiting when you get home. Fantastic....and fun too. I may never tire of this just like I _still_ like to check myself out in the self-serve line at the commissary (grocery for you civilian folks).

Most helpful

Far and away, seeing it in a chunk down on the floor was most helpful of all. Pictures of rooms with it installed helped too but I suspect nothing will match seeing it on site in the actual light of the home.

Best, and maybe most amazing, we did find some things we agreed on and we didn't even get into an argument, mostly because we were both trying super hard to make this be a positive experience. We want our retirement home to be a haven, not a military zone!! 8^)


PS-A few asked about the St. Patrick's Day shirts. We got them about two years ago at the NEX (Navy Exchange store) in Norfolk, VA. We went back a week later for more and they were all gone! They are likely out at Navy venues every year but grab 'em when you see 'em!